Friday, January 30, 2015

The Lalor Summer-School for Vegetables, Mid-Term Report

I seem to recall that when I last blogulated, several decades ago, I hinted at certain misdemeanours on the part of Summer: to wit, excessive heat. If I didn't hint at excessive heat, then I was certainly thinking about it, because at the time the edges of the leaves were still crisped from the previous heatwave. The edges of me were still crisped from the previous heatwave. This is despite the fact that I had spent most of the heatwave either chipping away with a spoon at 2 litres of frozen peach pulp or lying on the floor, pretending to do work-related reading, and periodically groaning.

I'm very pleased to report, however, that Summer has pulled up its socks and been remarkably nice ever since. February may be prove me wrong, but so far this has been the best Summer since 2010-11. We've had a whole fortnight of maximum temperatures in the low 20s and southerly breezes most days and a blanket or two on the bed and snuggly cats and a half-full watertank and yes I do go on about the weather, but it's because heatwaves turn the Harlotian mind to thoughts of imminent apocalypse, and, in the interests of balance, I have to be proportionately relieved by non-heatwaves.

It's been good, gentle weather for keeping veg alive, dry enough that they haven't all keeled over with fungal infections, warm enough that things are ripening in their own good time. 

We've been doing pretty well on the tomato front. The long red fellows are Amish Pastes. The big red in the bottom right-hand corner is a tomato of unknown parentage that turned up one day, the furry things up the back are not tomatoes (hello, interloping peaches), and the little orange guys are from a free packet of Diggers' Club Artisan Tomatoseeds.

I was a bit suspicious of Artisan TomatoesI mean, calling something "Artisan" just isn't very artisanal. Artisanal tomatoes should have names like Wapsipinicon Peach, Jaune Flamme, Schimmeig Weltschmersch, Big Red Rockeater, or Alpaca's Delight - or Amish Paste, for that matter.

But I'm prepared to overlook the flaw in their nomenclature, because they're quite lovely. And prolific. In future I'll have to try to repress the urge to grow magnificent boomba tomatoes and instead stick with the cherries. They ripen so much more quickly and they're so much more bounteous and easy.

As for their fellow nightshades, I've been enjoying my inaugural tomatillo crop. I bought these Green Harvest seeds, never having tasted a tomatillo, and I'm very pleased to find that they're worth bothering with.

The fruit mature inside these lantern-shade pericarps, like Cape gooseberries do.

And then, it seems, they're ripe when the pericarp splits. The fruit are sweet and strangely cheesy-tasting. Word on the street is that they're the basis for Mexican salsa verde (they're green when ripe, hence the verde). Henceforth I will be looking down smugly upon mere tomato-based salsas.

Speaking of smug, and more nightshade action, I seem to have cracked the secret to getting eggplants and capsicums from seed-to-fruit in a single season. Or I've had a lucky fluke anyway. I brought on these seeds in my heated propagation tray inside, and planted them out in late October into a bed covered with about 20cm deep of my artisanal compost, which shall henceforth be known as Artisan Compost. Apart from the minor setback caused by my Artisan Compost spawning a minor forest of volunteer potatoes and mallow (thank you, cold-composting methods), which it took me several weeks to realise I had to sacrifice to the greater solanum, things are going Well.

Camouflaged green capsicum! Sexy milk bottles & plastic flowerpots were deployed as earwig repulsing devices when the seedlings were planted out.

I've been getting a bit of bean action from these Dwarf Violet Queens, but the plants are disappointingly floppy. I may have over-manured the soil they're in (not with my own personal manure in this case, some of you may be pleased to read); whether it's that or that they're just congenitally lazy, I don't think I'll bother with them next year.

 Carrots and parsnips and leeks are pottering along in the excellent Greensmart wicking pots on the front driveway:

The disgustingly bitter radicchio which I didn't realise (a) would need blanching and (b) would taste like some grueling Baltic herbal remedy has gone to flower:

and in the spirit of growing my own root-based coffee substitute,  I am considering yanking it up and doing unto the radicchio (aka chicory) what hath been done unto its friends the dandelions.

Corn, corning away:

 Kale, kaling:

Leek, flowering:

Pumpkin, disappearing over the neighbours' fence, which is probably where its fruit will end up:

 NB: nibbled leaves. A personal contribution from Agatha the Pumpkin-Leaf Improver and Professional Chook.

Jaune et Verte squash, squashing:

That's not quite all. There's a potato patch doing its underground thang (I hope), two sweet-potato plants, one sending vines out on a serious rampage and the other minding its own business, the Egyptian walking onions beginning the formation of their bulbils, sorrel looking green and joyous, silverbeet going frantically to seed, Jerusalem artichokes ensuring flatulence for 2015, and Chinese water celery beginning its inaugural march across the pond into water chestnut territory.

And now, c'est tout. B+.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

We weed weed wee

Enquiring minds are no doubt wondering what all this talk of weed and wee and we and weed the abovely title portends. It's this, you see, I've been messing about with dandelions, one of the world's most famous diuretics, if for "world" you'll accept Culpepper's Complete Herbal (marrying botany and slightly dangerous medicinal advice since 1653). Old Nick Culpepper begins his reflections on dandelions by noting that the vulgar refer to them as "piss-abeds". This would be a clue: however tempting it may seem, you shouldn't drink your bodyweight in water and then gorge on dandelions unless you're prepared to sleep in a nappy on a plastic sheet. The good news, according to our favourite seventeenth-century herbologist, is that piss-abedding can be therapeutic. The dandelion:
openeth the passages of the urine both in young and old [eek!]; powerfully cleanseth imposthumes and inward ulcers in the urinary passages [double eek!], and by its drying and temperate quality doth afterwards heal them; for which purpose the decoction of the roots or leaves in white wine, or the leaves chopped as pot herbs with a few alisanders, and boiled in their broth, are very effectual.
As it happens, the passages of my urine have been in pretty good fettle of recent years, so I haven't been in dire need of a dandelion and alisander soup. However. Ever since the weather killed my first tea plant (a genuine Camellia sinensis, frizzled by a Melbourne heatwave) and then the chickens killed my second tea plant (not maliciously; it just happened to be where they wanted to excavate), I've gotten crazily enthusiastic about tea alternatives that are within my limited horticultural reach. And that means - besides lemon verbena and peppermint and lemongrass and raspberry leaf - dandelion root. What dandelion root tea lacks in caffeine it more than makes up for in a pleasing ... brownness. (How am I going? Talked you into giving up coffee for dandelions yet?)

The best time to harvest dandelion roots, I've learnt from grim experience, is before they flower (as with any root vegetable, the energy stored in the root gets used up in the flowering). We had a burst of dandelion flowering around September, but the next generation is yet to bloom, so this afternoon, with the soil good and soft from rain, I seized my opportunity to hoik up this fine assembly of rooticles.

You could probably brew with them as is, but I'm inclined to chop them up into 1cm lengths and plonk 'em in the oven for 15 minutes or toast them in a dry fry pan. The toasting seems to caramelise the sugars (starches?) in the root which makes these little niblets rather tasty.

They're ready now for my Dandelion Soy Latte deluxe. It's a thing. Sounds slightly more impressive than wee tea. You just plonk a teaspoonful of these into a tea strainer, steep it in your warmed and frothed liquid of preference, add honey if you like, and Bob's your nuncle.

P.S. more weeds for dinner. The mucilaginous mallow of the Malvaceae family has been springing merrily out of the compost I spread around my vegums. Imho, the best thing to do with a weed in the vegum patch is eat it (cf. nettles). Here, therefore, are some mallow leaves (centre) posing with some Murraya koenigii/curry leaves (left) and some cardamom leaves (rightish, downish) before being plonked into tonight's chickpea ragout. The leaves, stem, flowers, etc of the mallow are all edible, and quite an acceptable cooked green, particularly good in a casserole or something that benefits from a bit of thickening.

P.P.S. Tim wishes it to be known that he has brewed dandelion root ale. And lo it was good.

P.P.P.S. this post brought to you by the word "plonk", which I note I have now used four times.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Honey, I'm home: nectarine thieves, apricottage, and Operation Cyser

Hello blog! Hello 2015! Hello Lalor (from which magnificent outer northern suburb, we - Timnus, Harriet & Bea Cat, a posse of chooks and I - absconded for the hols)! We returned home from our abscondage just in time for 2015's first bout of Melbourne HellWeather, so it was only after we'd thoroughly watered the garden, shaded the bees, wet the worms and set out five million waterbowls for the chickens that we noticed that the entire crop of some 100 or so nectarines we'd left on our frontyard nectarine tree had vamoosed.

Melbourne HellWeather MMXV, Bout the First

I planted the nectarine the day after we moved to Lalor, in the rain (sigh), just over four years ago. Pam from up the road popped down to introduce herself and invite me over for tea (nice work, Lalor Welcoming Committee). Someone whose name I've never learnt but who lives in the next street along warned me sternly that if I put a fruit tree in my front garden kids would steal my fruit. Oh no!, I thought, Not the national scourge of fruit-eating children! and then I continued on with my row of alternating apples and stone fruit along the front perimeter, imagining the occasional youngster helping herself to afternoon tea on the way home from school. Had I known that "kids will steal your fruit" would mean "some audacious individual of unspecified age will strip your entire crop", maybe I'd have grown a thistle hedge, sunk a moat and installed a pair of lusty piranhas.  Or maybe not. I have mixed feelings about this fruit theft. I myself am an A-grade salvager of abandoned fruit, for one thing, and if someone thought our under-ripe nectarines were so delicious that she/he/they persisted in denuding the entire tree, then happy Christmas, someone. More to the point, we're lucky it was just fruit we lost. There's some serious loot in our house, just waiting for the burgling. A sack of alpaca fleece, for instance. The complete set of the Season Eight Buffy the Vampire Slayer comic books. Several hundred bottles of variably potable homebrew. A 1940s sewing machine I found abandoned on the verge in Preston and lugged home at great cost to my dorsal muscles only to find that it didn't function. The $0.99 lounge suite from ebay. The coffee table snaffled from hard rubbish. So, nectarines schmectarines.

It has also helped reconcile me to my nectarine loss that we happen to be, right this minute, rather rolling in fruit. We found a wild apple in Bright (as you do) with precociously juicy apples. Who knew apples could ripen in December? Go, you good tree! Accompanied by my trusty nieces-in-crime, K and H, and the Tim-meister, we picked almost 15kg, without making much of a dent in this tree's fructifying.

Back home, the apricot tree was groaning with fruit (safely stowed in the backyard, away from Lalor's Stonefruit Filcher of Doom). Thinking we were in for hail last night, I pulled down half the apricots - 7.5kg as it turns out - and while scoffing the ripest, Fowlers Vacola-ed 11 bottles of apricocks (in the no-not-at-all-bawdy parlance of Mr. W. Shakespeare).

7.5kg of Moor Park apricots. Was pleased to note that Mount Alexander organicky Moor Parks are selling for $10/kg, which means that these kids have already more than paid for their insect/bird exclusion netting. In foreground: remains of my lentil deluxe dinner, eaten outside to maximise benefits of cool change. In background: dwarf peach (fruiting for the first time this year, yay!) and water chestnuts in blue pond thingy.

Eleven jars of apricottery with a dollop of honey per jar, all rustically packed. Ain't winning no CWA awards for handsome fruit-packing anytime soon.

Excess apricots (is there such a thing?) safely preserved, we got down to the serious business of making out first cider of the year.

Which, once the apples are assembled, begins with apple crushing. The apple crusher is a spendy bit of kit that is entirely worth its spendiness (say I, having laboriously crushed the apples in my 2L blender the first year we made cider). Of course, as with all positive spendiness to worthiness ratio calculations, this one assumes regular and passionate use (a fair assumption, as I'll be in the cider-making lark for many years to come, dog willing, and may yet manage to cultivate friends who want to borrow the crusher (or The Crusher, to give this fine article its due Arnie-Schwarzeneggerisation)).

The Crusher in its most fearsome aspect. 

You can't see 'em, but underneath those apples are teeth on wheels. They bite the apples up and spit them out into a bucket below. Then we take the apple spit bits and stuff them into the apple press and press away and out oozes the juice. No photo of this stage, because all hands are either engaged in manipulating the press or covered in bits of apple.

It turned out that while these apples were perfectly juicy and while they tasted (to me) sweet, their sugar content was pretty low, according to our trusty hydrometer. Our juice would have made the light-beer equivalent of cider, which sounded fine to me, but my co-vintner was having none of this namby-pamby barely-fermented, cideresque excuse-for-a-drink, and promptly poured a 600mL jar of our honey into the juice. Voila! Cider turns to cyser, i.e., apple-honey wine (at which point, it behooves me to point out that mead-making, aka, mazing, has all the best vocabulary: mazer, metheglin, pyment, cyser, melomel, hippocras), and its future alcohol content approximately quadruples.

5 litres of cyser-to-be

But on that I'll have to get back to you in the fulness of time. Five years or so should do the trick.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

That old yarn

I haven't been to an agricultural show for at least a decade, and last time I did I was too old to get excited about showbags, rides on the whizzamagig and foodlike substances on sticks, but, on the other hand, I hadn't yet settled into my early-onset nanna-esque enthusiasm for produce displays and vintage machinery. Thirty-six, it turns out, is the perfect age for enjoying agricultural shows, and the Whittlesea Show today was a delight. I got to witness from afar the latest fairground cuisine (variations on deep-fried fairy-floss). The arts & crafts competition displays were glorious, esp. in the Best Decorated Orange or Potato category, the Fair Isle sock display, the carrot cake competition, and the great Orstrayan backyard dunny division. There were fewer exhibits of baby animals being terrorised by kids than I'd feared, and the weather was on the chilly side of 15ºC (thank you v. much, southerly change), which meant that the handsome, hand-brushed Poll Herefords standing around with no shade or water weren't suffering unduly. And - finally - there was an alpaca display, including a coven of spinsters transforming alpaca fluff into a very respectable yarn.

Which was just what I needed, being myself a struggling novice in the alpaca-yarn spinning department. I made some inroads about a week ago, after watching several bajillion instructional youtube videos on setting up my spinning wheel, carding fleece, making rolags (rolags!), and spinning itself. But even so, this meagre length of yarn -

- was all I could make before I stopped in frustration. The yarn kept breaking, and, uncoordinated at the best of times, I was finding it nigh impossible to pedal with one foot, use both hands to pinch the rolag into something finer and threadlike, not slow my pedalling down so that the wheel started going backwards, deploy my third hand to grab the next rolag and introduce it, scratch behind my ear etc, and remain upright. Hand-foot-eye-machine synchronisation, never my strong suit.

At some point in this dogforsaken initiation into spinning I gave up, grabbed an old ball of  Patons 5-ply and started knitting this bedsock, on which I made tremendous progress at last week's poetry-at-the-pub, with the aid of my trusty book of sock patterns, I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks.

If only there were a companion volume, I Can't Believe I'm Spinning Alpaca Fleece.

So, anyway, it was very comforting to speak to the alpaca spinners today and discover a few things: (1) everyone finds spinning hard at first; (2) noone learns to spin from youtube; (3) alpaca wool isn't your optimal beginner's fibre, given its tendency to break, whereas sheep's wool consists of cells that make the wool stick together (or something); and (4) there is such an institution as the Hand Weavers and Spinners Guild of Victoria, headquartered in Melbun, and I could take lessons or join a local group and bludge lessons for free. So I think that's now my plan: I will put the gigantic sack of alpaca fleece back in the cupboard, wait until the new year when the next term of Wednesday evening spinning lessons start, and in the meantime, if I'm stricken down with yarn nerdery, I'll use up some of the commercial wool I've been accumulating over the decades in a flurry of sock manufacturing. I might try treadling my spinning wheel at the same time, just to get my foot in.

Meanwhile, in other news: Spring! The season of empinkification in the front yard.

The season of bees in apple-blossom (except for the apple-blossom that didn't eventuate because the earwigs of doom climbed up the trunks in the night and ate the unopened flower buds ... bloody earwigs).

And t'is the season of Esme Australorp deciding to incubate the next generation of chooklings with her whole soul and self. Esme can't be photographed, because she has planted herself in the darkest farthest corner of the coop and will be enormously disaffected if I open the portal that lets light in on her (whirr, fluff, dinosaur impersonation). We procured for her eight fertilised eggs last Sunday, so that the sitting could produce something other than rotten eggs; she broke two by accident on her first day, settling in, but all's gone well ever since, and she's almost a third of the way through the incubation now with six eggs still intact. She is a model of endurance. The whole incubation involves 21 days of sitting, turning the eggs over now and then so the embryos don't stick to the shell, holding in her poos, her thirst, her hunger, her need to stretch, her desperate need for a dustbath, until that brief moment in the afternoon when it's warm enough to leave the eggs and she can dash out and get a day's worth of living compressed into twenty minutes. Puts my frustrations with the alpaca fleece and the spinning wheel of contrariety right in their place.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Artichokes sotto olio and loquat chutney, via rambling anecdotes about shoelaces and spinning wheels

The other day, Tim bought himself a new pair of shoelaces. I was appalled. "You're paying money for these?" I asked, in my eminently reasonable fashion. "We could make our own shoelaces. I could make them out of nettles. In fact, I think we should learn how to make shoes. I'm sure we could cobble something together. Get it?! Cobble! Ha!" Tim, it turns out, has no interest in learning how to cobble. Apparently - it's hard to believe, I know – he has other things he'd rather do with his time. Like make cheese. The decadence of the West, I tells you.

Some fairy godperson gave me a giant sack full of alpaca fleece via freecycle recently. On the strength of this, I bought a preloved spinning wheel on and borrowed every book on spinning that the Yarra Plenty Library network possesses. The first one I opened featured a tutorial on how to make your own spinning wheel. I could have made my own spinning wheel! Instead I had sold my soul to and bought a second-hand one like the dirty consumerist I am. I'd been feeling so smug about how I was just 239 hours of textile-based labour away from my own home-spun hand-knitted alpaca-fleece undies and there was this book raising the DIY bar another notch in the direction of Tudor-era über-peasant unattainability.

So, today, I'm all set to make my first jar of preserved artichokes for the season when I remember that they require vinegar. I ignore the bottle of white wine vinegar bought by Tim, that Jezebel of mercantilism, and decide that I will use the home-grown liquid that we have been generously describing as "honey wine vinegar". This potion, which fills six wine bottles and has been sitting in our cupboard for almost a year, is the terrible consequence of an attempt at "wild fermenting" mead (wild fermentation being where, instead of adding a commercially produced yeast into the ferment, one leaves the must sitting around in the open air for a bit, allowing it to catch the local micro-organisms). But then I taste it, this "honey wine vinegar", which I haven't touched since December when we palmed some off onto our long-suffering relatives for Christmas, and I am reminded that it is truly horrible (sorry, relatives), and I decide that perhaps in the matter of wine yeasts it is preferable to surrender to the tyranny of the commercial yeast makers. While I'm in surrender-mode, I also decide to use the white wine vinegar for my artichoke project, but! I will recycle it. First I'll use it to marinate the artichokes, and then I'll drain the artichokes, and catch the vinegar, and use it to make loquat chutney.

A backyard artichoke.

A frontyard artichoke. 

Today's artichoke harvest.

The artichoke regimen is this: first I wash 'em, primarily to evict the earwigs; then I remove outer leaves and spiky tops; then I boil them submerged in a solution that's half vinegar, half water and 1 tablespoon salt per 1kg of artichokes, plus bay leaves, a couple of cloves, a chilli; this mixture has to boil for five minutes, and then I drain the acidified artichokes and leave them to cool. When they're cool, I'm going to immerse them in olive oil.

Artichokes, cooling after a brisk boil in vinegar solution.

Meanwhile, I'm plotting the demise of these loquats, picked from a dangling-over-someone's-backfence local loquat tree:

Loquats, could be riper, but the lack of household chutney was getting dire.

My loquat chutney recipe requires a kilo or so of loquats, deseeded, chucked in a pot with the leftover litre of vinegar and salt solution from my artichoke acetification process, plus 500g sugar, 500g chopped onion, a handful of sultanas, two teaspoons of ground mustard seeds, a knob of grated ginger, and a bit of chilli. This gets bubbled and reduced for an hour and a half, scooped into hot jars, and then water-bathed for ten minutes, resulting in ...

enough chutney to last until tamarillo chutney season.

And by now the artichokes have cooled, so they're plonked in one of my mum's giant ex-Nescafe instant coffee jars and submerged in olive oil (which I bought in a 15L cask last March, sufficiently long ago that I can pretend to forget that I didn't make it myself, with my own hand-forged olive press, using locally grown Lalorian olives).

 And that is the end of the story. I am ridiculous.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Walking, onions, and walking onions

One of the nicest gifts I've been given this year (in a ridiculously competitive field, let me tell you) was a 10kg sack of brown onions. Those onions came into my life late in May, and they kept us in onioniness right up until early September, when the last few began to sprout and I had to eat them quickly before they had a chance to win me over, get me planting them out under the Granny Smith, giving them names, and knitting them scarves.

I do grow an onion, of a sort. It's the Egyptian walking fellow. In Summer, he sends up a stalk laden with bulbils; the bulbils grow in the air, weigh the stalk down, make contact with the ground and start putting down roots - voila! new onions! It's a pretty nifty arrangement, saves raising onions from seed blahedy-blah, but, alas, it's not doing anything for my immediate onion supply: the Egyptian walkings are busily enjoying the Spring, with nary a thought of fattening their bulbs.

This year's Egyptian walking onions of insouciance, demonstrating their capacity to chillax in the presence of Esme, if not to produce appreciable bulbs.

Happily, it just so happens to be the Season of Ubiquitous edible Onion Weed. By onion weed I don;t mean the pretty but otherwise pointless so-called onion weed with which I grew up in the wilde of NSW (Nothoscordum inodorum or Allium neapolitanum, nothing to write home about on the gastronomy front), but, rather, the delicious, faintly garlicky, and plentiful Allium triquetrum, or three-cornered leek, growing rampantly along the banks of a Merri Creek tributary near you (or me, more to the point).

Free-range onion weed.

While they don't have the world's enormousest oniony bit, the greens are like a particularly lovely mild shallot. I pulled up a clump from a nearby weedarium yesterday, and whizzed them, leaves, roots, flowers and all, with chickpeas, cumin, chilli, coriander and salt to make falafels. They've made their way into kale & tempeh cook-ups (oh yeah, I sure know how to party), lentil surprises (ditto), and been chopped into potato mash. There's a recipe floating around somewhere for tempura-battered onion weed flowers, which sounds like a dangerous dish to get fond of, but - on the other hand - the onion weed season is brief and the fried stuff is delicious.

In other matters alliumnal, I've got a wicking box full of King Richard leeks on the go. I've been so proud of the way they were growing, my plucky leeks, and then this morning, as we were nearing the end of our 15km creek-side walk from home to CERES (just thought I'd mention that in passing, our 15km walk to breakfast at CERES ... did I say it was 15 kilometres? before breakfast?), we stumbled across the Merri Creek market garden, and spied these beauties that make my leeks look like puny blades of grass.

 Intimidatingly good-looking leeks, buried up to their shoulders and everything.

So that put me in my place. Some kind of leek farmer I am. On the other hand, we came home with half a bagful of free onion weed, so spem in allium.*

* an incredibly sophisticated pun (punion!) on "spem in alium". Vastly improved by this footnote. Or, you know, not.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Special favas' day post: disorganised experiments with the sexual careers of broadbeans

For four years now, I've been growing two varieties of fava beans. The first variety, Aquadulce, white flowers spotted with black, has been my backyard utility broadbean. It produces loads of pods and each pod has loads of seeds, and I like to eat them very much. If I eat almost all, but save ten beans, I'll have bazillions of seeds to sow the following year.

Aquadulce, in flower.

The second variety is the Crimson flowered. It's the broadbean the pope would grow, in my expert episcopal opinion, and by jingo I hope he does, in his abundant spare time, in a raised wicking bed on the Vatican forecourt, using his mitre as an A-grade dibber. It's a gorgeous deep red, but it produces not so many pods with not so many seeds in each pod, and so it's been my front-garden show variety. Because the 12 seeds I bought in 2011 cost $3.95 – over thirty cents per bean – and they're usually easy to save, I keep at least half of these beans for growing the following year, rather than despatching them into the Lalorian belly with gnocci and garlic.

One of the reasons I've been so conscientious about keeping the white-flowering Aquadulces behind the house and the crimson-flowering broadies out front has been to prevent cross-pollination, to keep my crimsons crimson and my Aquadulces prolific. Last year, though, our otherwise blameless neighbour across the street grew a row of broadbeans along her low brick fence, and it would appear that there have been trans-streetway shenanigans.

The evidence is in this year's patch of frontyard crimson broadbeans. Besides a goodly portion - perhaps 90% - which remain the colour of the crimsons above, there is a smattering of deviant hybrids:

 a purple-graduating-to-black ombre broad bean flower.

 a veined violet flower with a black spot,

a richly pink flower, 

 and a slightly less richly pink flower.

Here's where I fail as a eugenicist. Rather than yanking these out to try to retrieve the purity of my crimson stock, or slipping botanical condoms over their stamens, I'm kind of curious to see what these hybrids do (they may have inherited not just the non-crimsonness of her-across-the-road's beans, but - if I'm lucky - some of the prolificness). And I'm still more curious to see what happens to next year's broadbean babies. So I'll be tying bits of wool around the not-quite-crimson-flowering plants to remind me to pay attention, save their seed, and plant them in an experimental bed come May, and in the meantime, I'm enjoying their rare colours.